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IMPD G.R.E.A.T Camp guides generations of Indy kids

Officers Marcus Riley and Jonas Coleman recognized by ATF
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Posted at 11:29 PM, Jun 10, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — Monday, an IMPD and ATF program aimed at educating youth about the streets kicked off its middle school portion in Indianapolis.

It's a program that has guided generations of Indy kids but it was also a surprise for a couple of Gang Resistance Education and Training Camp or G.R.E.A.T officers.

"As a G.R.E.A.T grad yourself you've dedicated your life to serving your community as a police officer with the IMPD," said Coleman.

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A surprise recognition from the ATF for IMPD Gang Resistance Education and Training Camp officers, Marcus Riley and Jonas Coleman.

"It's kind of funny. I was actually laughing at the officer because he wasn't expecting it and then next thing I know, my name was being called too," said Coleman.

G.R.E.A.T students learn from metro police officers and ATF agents about violence in the city and how to better themselves.

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"That's the main things, respect and knowing they can do anything," said Coleman.

"Teaching the children life skills that are so valuable we don't want them to go in jail, and I don't ever want to have to arrest them but how do you do that? You teach them those skills not to get arrested. You teach them how to manage their anger, how to handle peer pressure, how to handle someone else who's angry," said ATF Senior Special Agent Veronica Morales-Miller.

The two officers honored, once sat in the same seats as the middle schoolers.

They even learned from the same G.R.E.A.T instructor.

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"Don't say what year, back in the 90s, from kindergarten all the way up to fifth grade and so Officer Grinnell came across our summer camps," said Officer Riley. "I always believe in giving back, pay it forward. Not all of us have those for guidance, such as brothers, sisters, fathers. Everybody comes into a different situation. So, you try to be that mentor for kids, and try to, you know, be there for what lacks at home."

Officer Riley grew up in Riverside off MLK where Holy Angels Catholic school and the camp sits.

"Used to live right across the street in my my youth days," he said.

Officer Coleman, grew up in Martindale-Brightwood.

Now, they're working to bridge the gap between police and people in their communities.

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"We're all human beings. We're here to do good things, versus all the things you see on media. So again, everybody is trying to bridge that gap. I would like to be judged for the person I am, not for the uniform I wear," said Riley.

"It's an honor and honoring experience to be able to get out there and help them experience the same things that I experienced when I was a kid," said Coleman. "It really helped shaped who I am today."

When he looks at the children he said he sees a bright future who might even follow in their footsteps.

"I see a lot of kids that's thrilled to be here ready and motivated to go and learn about the program," said Coleman.

"Kids need to understand that this is your potential right here, and I'm truly grateful that they decide to become great instructors. So, from their classroom experience, to becoming IMPD officers and instructor.s We have some kids here that are probably going to follow in their footsteps thanks to the recognition, and I hope that they do, because these guys are awesome," said Morales-Miller.

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The ATF said nationwide funding for the G.R.E.A.T program ends on September 30th.

Volunteers will still be there, but funding helps with food, trips and more.

The ATF is hoping to spread awareness of the importance of the program like IMPD's.